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Queens Chronicle

MTA accessibility and maintenance critiqued

Comptroller audit and ADA lawsuit challenge committment to disabled

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Posted: Thursday, May 4, 2017 10:30 am

The city’s subway system is under dual attack over its lack of accessibility for people requiring elevators or escalators; and for its general maintenance of those which the system already has.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office on Monday released an audit claiming that there are serious gaps in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s maintenance program.

The report came one week after three individuals and six advocacy groups for the disabled filed a suit against the MTA, its interim executive director, Valerie Hakim, the New York City Transit Authority and its acting President Darryl Irick, saying that 80 percent of the city’s subway system remains inaccessible.

Stringer’s audit found that the MTA did not perform all scheduled maintenance on nearly 80 percent of the sampled escalators and elevators, and that one-third of scheduled preventive maintenance procedures in its sample were completed late or not at all.

“When seniors and people with disabilities can’t get to where they need to go because of a broken elevator or escalator, government is failing them,” Stringer said in statement on his office’s website.

The Comptroller’s Office sampled 36 elevators and 29 escalators in New York City — a total of 65 machines — and found that:

• Approximately 80 percent of the elevators and escalators did not receive all of their scheduled preventive maintenance service assignments;

• 21 of the 65 machines — or 32 percent of the sample — failed one or more of the MTA’s own inspections and were removed from service to address the safety defects;

• 15 of the 21 machines that failed inspection had been serviced approximately two weeks before the inspection; and

• those 15 machines had 62 defects that remained pending even after they were serviced.

Stringer’s report added that the 65 sampled elevators and escalators should have received 849 scheduled preventive maintenance services during an 18-month period the Comptroller’s Office audited. However, of those 849 preventive maintenance assignments:

• 34 percent — 289 of the 849 assignments sampled — were not completed on time or at all;

• 164 maintenance assignments performed, or 22 percent, were not completed on time. The vast majority were late, by 15 days on average, with 60 taking even longer;

• 21 maintenance assignments were not completed at all; and

• 104 maintenance assignments were canceled (with an explanatory memo on file). However, 32 of those memos did not meet the MTA’s own criteria for canceling preventive maintenance.

In regard to the lawsuit, filed April 24, the New York City-based Disability Rights Advocates called the subway system the least accessible in the country.

“[Eighty] percent of the city’s subway stations are inaccessible to anyone using a walker, wheelchair, scooter or otherwise lacking the ability to get down stairs,” the group said in a statement on its website.

The MTA claims the Stringer audit is misleading in that the methodology skews results by excluding newer machines from its sample, including every elevator and escalator installed since 2011.

“New York City Transit is spending more than $1 billion to increase the number of ADA-compliant subway stations and replace existing elevators and escalators as part of our current Capital Plan,” MTA spokeswoman Beth DeFalco said in a statement sent to the Chronicle.

“The most in-depth inspections were all completed on time during the audit period,” she added. “We have a detailed system for the maintenance of these machines and closely track work that is done to keep our elevators and escalators safe and available for our customers. We are continually looking at new ways to improve the performance of equipment and maintenance practices.”

The MTA back in 1990 reached an agreement with representatives of the disabled community to designate certain key subway stations as priorities for retrofitting based on their ridership, number of transfer points and other criteria. The agency says it is in compliance with the agreement.

MTA statistics state that 117 of the subway’s 472 stations are ADA-accessible, and that funding has been approved to add 25 more to that number. The average cost of making an underground station fully accessible is about $30 million.

The cost of retrofitting the entire system is estimated to be about $10 billion in 2017 dollars.

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1 comment:

  • pvaldezriverajr posted at 12:53 pm on Sat, May 6, 2017.

    pvaldezriverajr Posts: 292

    It's a shame that other US cities with their own subway systems have their majority of their own subway stations ADA accessible and they are laughing at us to our own knees since the MTA is in liability and in violation of the ADA of 1990. We are getting old and/or disabled as time rolls along. [angry]